This Week & Next (Feb 26, 2016)

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House Appropriations Committee begins hearings on DPS reform bills
The full House Appropriations Committee kicked off hearings Wednesday on a package of 6 bills to address education reform in Detroit, called the “Putting Students First” proposal.  Bills in the package are HB 5382-5387, sponsored by Representatives Pscholka, Price, Garcia, Poleski and Jacobson; and they include these primary features:

  • Create an “old DPS” district to collect local education taxes and pay off the district’s $515 operational debt and provide $200 million in seed money to the “new DPS”;
  • Create a new public school district to educate children, with a school board that transitions from being appointed to fully elected over an 8 year period;
  • Require the following reforms in the new district:
    • Oversight by the Financial Review Commission
    • Specific programs to address early literacy and 3rd Grade reading proficiency
    • An A-F letter grading system for school accountability
    • Closure of chronically-failing traditional and charter public schools
    • A balanced academic calendar throughout the year
    • A 401(k) style retirement plan for new school employees
    • Alternative certification for teachers
    • Performance pay for the most effective teachers
    • Loss of teaching certificate for those participatingin illegal strikes
  • Replacement of $72 million in the School Aid Fund to come from the General Fund

Testifying in this hearing was Bethany Wicksall, House Fiscal Agency, who discussed the financial history of DPS; Nick Khouri, State Treasurer; who predicted pay less paydays at DPS very soon; Natasha Baker, State Reform Officer, who illustrated the miserably poor academic history of DPS. Mayor Duggan was expected to testify at the Wednesday afternoon committee hearing, which was cancelled to due to extreme weather. The Appropriations Committee is expected to hold DPS hearings on Wednesdays at 8:00 am and 3:00 pm (or 15 minutes after session) for the next few weeks. GLEP will be testifying on the afternoon of March 2.

House Education and MDE subcommittees work on FY ’17 School Aid Budget
On Tuesday and Wednesday this week, the House and Senate School Aid Subcommittees began hearing presentations from various stakeholders at it relates to Governor Snyder’s proposed $14 billion School Aid Budget for the state in FY 2016-17. The committees heard from state libraries and early education advocates this week. Next week, the School Aid Subcommittee will be hearing from Natasha Baker, State Reform Officer, on state efforts with failing schools.

Additional DPS reform bills drop in Senate
While most of the previous attention has been on the primary DPS reforms included in SB 710 (Hansen) and SB 711 (Hansen), additional bills in the reform package, all sponsored by Sen. Hansen (R-Hart) were introduced on Wednesday. These bills include SB 819-822, which provide for financial changes needed to accompany the creation of the new traditional school district in Detroit. The Senate Government Operations Committee is scheduled to hold another hearing on DPS bills on Tuesday, March 1.

Betsy DeVos Urges Legislature to Pursue Bold Reforms
In her guest editorial viewpoint published by The Detroit News on Tuesday, Betsy DeVos (Chair of the American Federation for Children and Board member at the Great Lakes Education Project) urged the legislature to be bold in efforts to address DPS reforms.  According to Mrs. DeVos, “Rather than create a new traditional school district to replace the failed DPS, we should liberate all students from this woefully under-performing district model and provide in its place a system of schools where performance and competition create high-quality opportunities for kids.” Click here to read the full column, or click here to download it in PDF format.

Judge removes DFT from sickout strike; hearing against Steve Conn on March 7

Yesterday, Judge Stephens released both the Detroit Federation of Teachers and interim President Ivy Bailey from the DPS lawsuit against the local teachers union for their roles in the massive “sick out” strikes that closed nearly 90% of all DPS schools in January. This means the lawsuit remains pending against teachers Steve Conn and Nicole Conaway as the primary instigators of the sick-out strikes.  Judge Stephens will hold an evidentiary hearing on March 7, as DPS continues to seek injunctive relief for these sick-outs, which caused the loss of 718,000 learning hours during January. Judge Stephens, appointed by Governor Granholm, had previously denied DPS’s petition for a temporary injunction against the strikers and removed a number of potential defendants from the case.

In Senate Confirmation, King Talks ESSA, Charters, College Loans and Federal Restraint
John B. King, Jr., the presumptive new U.S. Secretary of Education, was peppered Thursday with questions from U.S. Senators on everything from college affordability, student data security, charter schools, challenges in rural education and refining regulations for students with disabilities. The two-hour hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) was one major step on the way to King’s anticipated confirmation as Arne Duncan’s successor next month. King, who helped found a charter school in Boston and ran a charter management group in New York, said as secretary he would work to support more high-quality charters while holding charter school authorizers to task when they do not serve students well. – Courtesy of The 74

Education News Clips

Next Week

Monday, February 29

Tuesday, March 1

  • Senate Education Committee, 12 pm
  • House School Aid Subcommittee, 10:30 am
  • Senate Government Operations Committee re: DPS bills, 12:30 pm

Wednesday, March 2

  • Senate School Aid Subcommittee, 8:30 am
  • House Appropriations Committee re: DPS bills, 8:15 am & 3 pm
  • House MDE Subcommittee, 10:30 am

Thursday, March 3

  • House Education Committee, 9 am
  • GOP Presidential Debate, Fox Theater, 8 pm

Friday, March 4

Do you support what GLEP is doing to improve education in Michigan? Please considermaking a donation to help us continue our efforts, and all contributions are very much appreciated!!


Gary G. Naeyaert
Executive Director